The Complete Eldercare Planner, Revised and Updated 4th Edition
A Place to Start
I work full-time. How am I supposed to take on this responsibility and keep my job, too? Where will the money come from to pay for care? I'm an only child and I can't possibly do this alone. I live miles away from my family, so who can I turn to for help? Why do I feel so guilty all the time? How do I know if I'm doing the right thing?
Most of us are inadequately prepared to face and accept the complex challenges associated with eldercare. And yet the aging of our loved ones is a natural part of life and a predictable phase of human development. The need to care for our elders is also a normal part of life, and something we can plan for.
Each caregiving situation is unique and typically involves simultaneous complex physical, emotional, and financial issues. How one family addresses an eldercare situation is not necessarily the right approach for another. What seems to be working one day could change drastically—overnight. How then do we proceed under these seemingly chaotic circumstances? The answer lies in planning.
Planning, however, takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to caring for older family members. Historical family decision-making patterns will no longer apply; the question of "Who's in charge?" is up for grabs. What was once written in stone regarding family rules and roles will no longer apply. What we can plan on when care issues crop up is the never-ending challenge of responding to changes of all kinds. When it comes to eldercare, family life as we once knew it will never be the same.
The true nature of assisting an older loved one includes a roller coaster of emotional upsets; consequently, the process of caregiving requires conscious and continuous management of our attitudes and our decisions. The Complete Eldercare Planner
is your road map through this unfamiliar and often unsettling territory and is an invaluable tool as you begin to create your customized caregiving strategies.PLAN ONE
Don't read this book. Use it.
We're all busy people who have the need to juggle multiple commitments and stay organized, and The Complete Eldercare Planner
has been designed to help you do just that.
Be sure to make use of the spaces provided for recording telephone numbers, setting goals, and locating documents. Over the years, readers of the first and second editions of this book have offered valuable feedback regarding the worksheets and checklists supplied throughout this book. As a result of readers' insightful suggestions, the forms in this book are now readily accessible online.
To download, customize, and store the documents at your convenience, please go to the Joy Loverde website (wwwdotelderindustrydotcom). You may choose to store your documents on your desktop, a CD-ROM, or a flash drive. Making the effort to complete the information electronically, then printing and storing paperwork in clearly labeled files, will pay big dividends. Do what you can to keep the information current and accessible.
An important document that you will want to complete and keep handy right away is the "Elder Emergency Information Chart" found on page 5. You'll have peace of mind knowing that you have access to immediate assistance when you need it.
Prioritize Caregiving Issues
The introduction and Objectives sections at the beginning of each chapter offer a quick overview of the chapter contents and help you to prioritize your most pressing caregiving issues. Knowing the basis for what you are reading, and why, will be especially helpful when the emotional aspect of caregiving threatens to undermine your ability to do what is needed at the time. Effective planning is specific, realistic, and written.
Staying on course with your care plans will be easier with the use of the "Eldercare Goals Chart" found on page 25. Tracking your progress with the use of the action checklists offered at the end of every chapter will also give you insights on where to focus your energies.
Tap into Professionals
There are knowledgeable and skilled professionals available to help you along the way. Look to the "Low-Cost and Free Resources" sections in each chapter and the hundreds of organizations and websites listed throughout The Complete Eldercare Planner
, and at the end of every chapter. Indexes of the organizations and websites can be found at the end of the book. Resources are listed alphabetically for a faster and easier search.
You now have everything you need to get started.PLAN TWO
Carve your own caregiving path.
How you approach and implement your care plans will most likely be different from others who are in similar situations. There are no cookie-cutter answers. Your family decision-making patterns, the help you receive from others, eligibility for specialized programs, and the availability of financial resources are some of the reasons why each care plan is customized. Ultimately, your process may include incorporating one plan, several plans, and even a combination of plans in order to solve a particular issue. Decide what method of planning and care works best for you.
Since nothing remains the same for very long when it comes to the people we care for, the process of caregiving will require ongoing assessments of the situation at hand. Older people are in constant transition; change is always on the horizon. A plan may work one day and not the next. Remaining open-minded and flexible will be one of the keys to your effectiveness as a family caregiver.
Open up the lines of communication right now with your elders and family members. Making assumptions about what is happening instead of talking with each other always does more harm than good. Do your best to approach problems and situations from fact, not fiction. Seek the advice of geriatric-care professionals if you need an unbiased opinion.
Keep your eldercare planning and timeline expectations realistic. Ask yourself on a regular basis these three simple questions: What can happen? What will my elder be able to do about what happens? What can the rest of the family do to help?
And plan early. When we plan we have choices, and the well-being of the entire family will rest on the quantity and quality of eldercare options, decisions, and plans that were put in place ahead of time. If fears about getting started are keeping you from acting now, the consequence of doing nothing is far worse.PLAN THREE
Implement planning principles.
Follow these six basic planning principles for maximum results.
1. Set goals. Know what you are doing and why. Make use of the "Eldercare Goals Chart" on page 25.
2. Create support systems and use them. Surround yourself and your elders with family members and friends as well as people from the local community as a way to share responsibilities and protect against caregiver stress. Don't turn anyone away if they are willing to help you.
3. Write it down. Put dates on all of your notes. Record plans, goals, ideas, phone numbers, questions, answers, promises, decisions, tasks, and appointments and keep them in a convenient, accessible location. Make good use of the forms in this planner. Download the forms from the website www.elderindustry.com if it will make it easier for you to write things down.
4. Organize information. Create a system using a file or binder that organizes your eldercare information. You'll constantly be digging for paperwork of all kinds. Be sure your system is mobile—you may have to produce documents at a moment's notice. Keep all paperwork in a safe, twenty-four-hour accessible location. Better yet, if you have a computer, download vital information onto a flash drive and keep it on your key chain. Flash drive key chains are available at your local computer outlet and convenience stores.
5. Allow sufficient time for research. Gathering information and creating options is critical to thoughtful action. Always research more than one option. You have a better chance of being successful with your elders and family members when you offer them choices and options.
6. Research all costs and who pays. Create budgets and seek sources of funding eldercare-related expenses early on.